06-08-2017, 10:27 AM
#1
  • srgjazz
  • Senior Member
  • Santa Monica
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I was involved in a discussion on another forum where a member asked for a brush recommendation. He wanted a brush for bowl lathering with good backbone at <$75. I recommended a Simpson Colonel X2L based on my personal experience with this brush. I have gone through a lot of brushes in  boar, badger, and synthetic including some very high end badgers from Shavemac and M&F. I have whittled down my collection to Simpson Colonel, Berkeley, and 55 in Best Badger. They just work for me in terms of lather making ability and face feel. I am not knocking any other brushes out there. I never had a bad one of all the ones I tried. 
After my X2L recommendation one of the senior members of the group who is also makes brushes made the statement that he recommends an artisan brush over any mass produced one. I asked if he included Simpson as mass produced. He stated that Simpson made their brushes like everyone else just with more people in production. I needed to correct his statement and said that unlike artisans (with a few notable exceptions), Simpson knots were hand formed and tied where artisan knots were sourced ready made. This did not go over well. My point here is that there are plenty of choices out there and that Artisan does not equal better by default. It all boils down to personal preference. If I wanted a Dodger Blue handle with Clayton Kershaw's number on it, I would go to an Artisan. When I want a nice dense scrubby brush for face lathering then Simpson is my first choice.

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 06-08-2017, 01:37 PM
#2
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I agree with you. Not a knock on artisans but I just prefer to buy from companies or people that hand tie their own knots. YMMV and all that

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 06-08-2017, 03:50 PM
#3
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With most (pretty much all) artisans, you are paying for a very very nice handle with a knot no better than those available from Frank Shaving or the Golden Nib. Not saying it's bad, but that's just the way of things. If you've ever tried to actually tie one of them, you'd know why no one does it.

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 06-08-2017, 04:08 PM
#4
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I agree with you all 3 - the term artisan is over-used and not always does the term artisan mean the brush is actually hand made by the artisan. As said typically artisan makes the handles and not the actual knot.

This is why I stopped my badger brush buying craze last year and now have settled on two brands:
Shavemac, which is in fact truly handmade from knot to handle
Thäter, which hand ties their knots and up to 30 mm use handmade Shavemac handles in their brushes.

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 06-08-2017, 04:40 PM
#5
  • garyg
  • Active Member
  • Great Lakes
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+4.  The very term "artisan" has been so overused & commercialized as to become almost meaningless.  One dictionary defines it as "handmade" .. which I suppose strictly speaking could exclude any handle made on a mechanized lathe .. 

I've enjoyed than a handful of brushes, including a bunch of Simpsons, as well as from many of the little guys, including Rudy Vey, Peter Wolf, Ken @ Paladin, et al.   without finding any arbitrary classification system that produces a good brush.    

The OP's initial recommendation of a Simpson's Colonel 2XL as a great first "good" brush is spot on.

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 06-08-2017, 04:57 PM
#6
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I'll add a little nuance (i hope) to the discussion.   Agree with Claus that Shavemac, and Thater are industry standards for a reason and the consistency of their quality is a big part of it.  Agree with Steven that several Simpson best badger brushes (Berkeley, Colonel, Commodore) represent great value.  That said, we are lucky to have value vendors that have found ways to source very high quality badger knots from China and offer great brushes at reasonable prices.  At the very high end, there are now a few US artisans who either tie their own or source knots that are hand-made for them and these brushes are among the best you can get.

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 06-08-2017, 05:08 PM
#7
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I have and enjoy both Simpson and artisan brushes.

On the handle side, the better artisans are able to produce outstanding handles.  However, someone may like a particular Simpson handle.  In my experience, artisan clones of Simpson handles are often not up to par with the original.  

On the knot side, the quality of knots available to artisans has improved but can still be inconsistent.  There is also a subjective satisfaction in knowing that your knot was hand-made by skilled hands at Simpson.

I think your suggestion of a Simpson X2L was a reasonable one, and that a blanket statement that artisan is per se better than Simpson is erroneous.  Depending on a variety of individual factors, either one can be the better choice for a given individual.

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 06-08-2017, 05:24 PM
#8
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I would have recommend a semogue SOC or 2000

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 06-08-2017, 05:46 PM
#9
  • SCOV
  • Active Member
  • Minnesota
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Big U2 fan.  There is a good reason that Bono sings and The Edge plays guitar. Both are excellent and contribute to the band.  Both have earned a place in the music world.  

No comment on Elvis impersonators.

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 06-08-2017, 05:52 PM
#10
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(06-08-2017, 05:46 PM)SCOV Wrote: Big U2 fan.  There is a good reason that Bono sings and The Edge plays guitar. Both are excellent and contribute to the band.  Both have earned a place in the music world.  

No comment on Elvis impersonators.
Well played...

The better artisan brush makers focus both on beautiful handles and sourcing the best guitarists. Smile

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 06-08-2017, 07:16 PM
#11
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My first Simpson brush, an Eagle G2 (low cost pure hair - right) has a spot in the loft about 3/16" x 3/8" that's 1/8" low near the edge of the bulb knot.  I tried to take a picture of this but simply can not make it show up in a photo.  Lacking the skills.  

What I imagine happened: the maker's scissors just in need of touch up barely pulled the hair while clipping the bottom at the edge prior to stuffing it into the handle. He probably touched them up right after that brush!  Too late it's glued in and he probably didn't notice anyway.  He's been making perfect brushes for over 13 years.  The QC lady missed it 'cause it didn't click her random pull number. Who knows...

Upon opening the package I realized I would never be able to sell it if I didn't like it. First it's pure badger and second it's defective, omg!  I should return it to the seller for an exchange which of course wouldn't be a problem obviously.   But the following day I decided to give the little HAND TIED orphan in cheap pure hair with NO GLUE BUMP a try anyway.  

This little brush makes up for it's defect in a delicious massage and producing volumes of lather for it's diminutive size.  It works harder to please than any other of my scant collection of capable Simpson and shavemac brushes.  

I expect an 'artisan' would take pride in not letting something like this ever escape his house, China glued knots or not.  But a volume handmade maker is not able to avoid it once in a while.  

Would I still consider an exchange?  I wouldn't trade this jewel for any deal that one would consider reasonable or equitable.

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 06-08-2017, 07:38 PM
#12
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Interesting story old school.  Thanks for sharing.  It seems your Eagle has great character.

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 06-09-2017, 04:22 AM
#13
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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(06-08-2017, 05:08 PM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: I have and enjoy both Simpson and artisan brushes.

On the handle side, the better artisans are able to produce outstanding handles.  However, someone may like a particular Simpson handle.  In my experience, artisan clones of Simpson handles are often not up to par with the original.  

On the knot side, the quality of knots available to artisans has improved but can still be inconsistent.  There is also a subjective satisfaction in knowing that your knot was hand-made by skilled hands at Simpson.

I think your suggestion of a Simpson X2L was a reasonable one, and that a blanket statement that artisan is per se better than Simpson is erroneous.  Depending on a variety of individual factors, either one can be the better choice for a given individual.

A good post, well said. Thank you, Sir.

Smile

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 06-09-2017, 04:40 AM
#14
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You guys are really making it hard resist getting a Simpson now... The only reason I haven't is because the one I want, Chubby manchurian, is beyond my price range. Wife and me have an ongoing "Chubby" joke so it has to be a Chubby...

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 06-09-2017, 06:51 AM
#15
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(06-09-2017, 04:40 AM)morr Wrote: You guys are really making it hard resist getting a Simpson now... The only reason I haven't is because the one I want, Chubby manchurian, is beyond my price range. Wife and me have an ongoing "Chubby" joke so it has to be a Chubby...
I was really into the "Having a Simpson" brush phase as well. I amassed a CH1, 2 & 3 all two-bands and with Super, SiLVERTiP and Manchurian hair respectively. Bought the TSN M6 Manchurian. My Simpsons have all been non-shedders, have beautiful knots and the iconic Chubby handle (except, of course the M6, which is too small for my hands). Still own all of them except the CH1, which I sold to acquire a Paladin. I can say this however about the Artisan Ken and the product he produces; his brushes can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best Simpson brushes. Looking back on it, if I knew then what I know now, I would have foregone the Simpsons in favor of Paladins. That's been my experience anyway. I am sure there are others that will disagree. That's ok too.

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 06-09-2017, 04:09 PM
#16
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(06-09-2017, 04:40 AM)morr Wrote: You guys are really making it hard resist getting a Simpson now... The only reason I haven't is because the one I want, Chubby manchurian, is beyond my price range. Wife and me have an ongoing "Chubby" joke so it has to be a Chubby...

I think every traditional shaver should experience a Chubby 2 somewhere along his journey.  Manchurians are expensive, but one is Super is more manageable and buying used is an option.

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 06-09-2017, 04:20 PM
#17
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(06-09-2017, 04:09 PM)TheLegalRazor Wrote:
(06-09-2017, 04:40 AM)morr Wrote: You guys are really making it hard resist getting a Simpson now... The only reason I haven't is because the one I want, Chubby manchurian, is beyond my price range. Wife and me have an ongoing "Chubby" joke so it has to be a Chubby...

I think every traditional shaver should experience a Chubby 2 somewhere along his journey.  Manchurians are expensive, but one is Super is more manageable and buying used is an option.
I second the choice of the CH2. The CH3 is ridiculously huge and the 1 is, well too small. 
[Image: Pa3NZrB.jpg]

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 06-09-2017, 04:25 PM
#18
  • Quando
  • Banned
  • Somewhere far-away, from Home
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Thäter

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 06-09-2017, 07:54 PM
#19
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I can easily see why the chubby 2 has earned its revered status, its an excellent brush. I have a single paladin (lotus) and after just using it again tonight - have to agree with Primo, it's simply a superb brush. Morris and Forndran is within reach now that Lee Sabini and Brad Sears are collaborating, and these brushes are (sometimes inconsistent, but) quite nice. Shavemac would round out my top four - as I believe that Bernd produces very symmetrical and extensively customizable brushes of high quality. Simpson has released some intruiging new rod stock - so now is a nice time for chubby 2...

[Image: pd1YUOw.jpg]




*Updated to note the collaboration between Lee Sabini & Brad Sears.

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 06-09-2017, 07:58 PM
#20
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(06-09-2017, 04:25 PM)Quando Wrote: Thäter

Agreed my thater is great

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